Top 3 Ways To Fully Protect Your Operations From Brownouts

3 Aug 2022

Est. Reading Time: 13 minutes

 

 

It is not unusual to lose power for extended periods where people might have to go without electricity. Often this could be due to a lightning storm hitting a transformer, or strong winds knocking down power lines. But sometimes, such interruptions may occur due to reduced levels of electricity, rather than power issues. 

 

Brownouts represent one of the biggest threats around the world, especially for manufacturers or industrial facilities. With increasing power interruptions causing massive inconveniences worldwide, many facilities have opted to install voltage solutions to safeguard essential equipment and maintain productivity even under such harsh conditions. 

 

The inconveniences caused by power cuts are evident. According to ABB, over a third of businesses lose over $50,000 in just an hour. Some other companies have accumulated losses of up to $6.5 billion. Manufacturers and industrial facilities which produce cars, electronics, food, drinks, or even pharmaceutical equipment, are especially vulnerable to power supply anomalies. Even a moment of electrical loss could damage sensitive equipment, resulting in costly and time-consuming maintenance. These interruptions often result in ruined yields and wasted expensive materials. Even once everything is back to normal, it will take a massive effort to clear all the mess caused by brownouts and having to restart your systems. 

 

In this blog, we examine what is a brownout, as brownouts can be different from other power irregularities. We will also be looking at the ideal solutions to help combat it so that we can take the necessary steps to safeguard against them—without wasting excessive time and money to overcome it. 

What is a brownout?

Brownout vs. Blackout

The question which may come to your mind right now is: “What is a brownout? And how is it different from a blackout?”

 

As quoted from the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, an electrical brownout is a period where the voltage of electricity is reduced due to high demand, which results in reduced illumination.

Line graph of a Brownout

So what does that mean as a whole? In other words, brownouts are caused due to a drop in voltage to a lower voltage and return back to their normal level, resulting in flickering or dimming lights. Brownouts often happen during severe weather conditions or heavy load periods. Therefore, brownouts are most likely to occur due to increased power demand or when a power grid or power plant suffers from damage or malfunction.

Despite the confusion between brownout vs blackout, these terms are different. Brownouts are most similar to voltage sags, where there is usually a “sag” in voltage levels before an eventual return to normal levels. During brownouts, devices can still get power, albeit at a reduced level, and are more likely to malfunction than fail.

Line Graph of a Blackout

On the other hand, a blackout is a large-scale interruption when the power goes off completely, resulting in a total loss of electrical power. An example is when in-line voltage drops from its normal level of 120 volts to below 80 volts, as most electrical equipment will not operate below these levels. 

 

Compared to brownouts, blackouts typically happen due to severe weather or equipment failure at power plants and could last for an indefinite period of time. They also occur without warning in unpredicted events such as natural disasters, avalanches, unnatural occurrences, or even when a car strikes a power pole.

However, different causes lead to brownouts – sometimes they are caused by bad weather like blackouts. Brownouts also occur due to poor electrical design or a heavy power draw in your facility or area. Common symptoms of a brownout can be flickering lights, quick switching on and off computer appliances, and intermittent internet connections. 

Consequences of Electrical Blowout

If a Brownout is left untreated, it could wreak havoc on your digital control circuits. It would also cause reduced voltage, bringing control signals below detectable levels where logic circuits can reliably detect the represented state. Brownouts could cause a motor to start running backward, with expensive repercussions, such as increased motor failures and lost production. The impacts are staggering – a study from Inside Energy found that in Pennsylvania and Illinois, over a million residents were affected by power problems caused by severe weather (ice and snow) and thunderstorms respectively, over two days in 2014.

Any one of these affected residents could be your next business opportunity, which explains the importance of acquiring the knowledge and tools needed to combat such power outages and low voltage events. Appliances with electric motors are prone to brownouts because the motor will draw more heat when the voltage declines, resulting in overheating. Components could also be easily damaged if underpowered, and once full voltage is restored, they could blow up due to the resulting power spikes.

How Do You Prevent a Brownout?

While Brownouts can happen, we can take quick response techniques and proactive steps to counter them. 

 

So how do we combat brownouts?

 

Keep reading on as we provide simple and quick response techniques that you can apply to solve your brownout woes. For those still looking for a voltage solution to combat brownouts, we got you covered.

#1

Take Fundamental Precautions

You should take steps to prepare your business against brownouts before they happen. You can constantly monitor the supply voltage and train your personnel to respond quickly whenever the voltage drops below desired levels. For critical applications, you should install thermal or condition monitoring devices that can shut down motors whenever an abnormally high winding temperature is detected. If it doesn’t work, reduce the load by partially closing a valve during a brownout. 

#2

Pull the plug during brownouts

Power surges cannot affect equipment that is not connected to power. Therefore, if the power goes out, you should unplug any equipment or high-value loads. Power during brownouts is unstable, so it is advisable to wait for 10 minutes or so before you plug your equipment back in. It would be better to wait longer to be sure that your equipment receives stable electricity.

#3

Check the source of brownout

For facility managers, you should check with your local utility to see if the brownout you are experiencing is actually coming from the grid. If everything is normal, the brownout issues you are encountering could be due to an electrical problem within your facility. If you are unsure, do not attempt to fix any electronics and always call the electrician for emergency service.

#4

Investing in Voltage Protection SOlutions

Since it is better to be safe than sorry when combating brownouts, it would be worth investing in voltage solutions to safeguard your facility or operations, which we explain more below. 

Top 3 Voltage Solutions to Combat Brownouts

Whether you’re completely new to voltage solutions, or an experienced electrically trained personnel, let’s take you through these 3 proven voltage solutions.

#1

Constant Voltage Transformer (CVT)

Also known as Ferroresonant regulators or Ferro, constant voltage transformers (CVT) leverage an interesting principle of the magnetic solution to produce high-precise voltage regulation. It features a magnetic core driven to saturation and a tank circuit to negate the potential side effects of a transformer operating in saturation. With no moving parts, Constant Voltage Transformers are not subjected to mechanical wear and tear.

They remain a popular option for applications that demand near-flawless regulation. For example, they are commonly used in film developments, cable TV, and battery charger, where there’s very little tolerance for supply voltage deviation. 

Ferroresonant Saturation Curve

 

In order to understand how Constant Voltage Transformers work, you can refer to the ferroresonant saturation curve.

 

Constant voltage transformers operate on the non-linear part of the curve, where the output voltage remains constant despite huge changes in the input voltage. This is in contrast to regular transformers that operate in the normal range and will produce an output voltage proportionate to the input voltage.

 

As Constant voltage transformers operate using magnetic flux saturation, there are no sensing circuits, mechanical components, or a feedback loop involved. However, there is secondary winding in parallel with one or more capacitors acting as an LC resonant circuit, preventing the byproducts of core saturation – distortions and harmonics – from affecting the regulated voltage. It also serves as temporary energy storage that helps to smoothen the output voltage.

#2

Uninterrupted POWER sYSTEM (UPS)

Widely known as a source of backup power and surge protector, the Uninterrupted Power System (UPS) has an array of batteries or a flywheel compartment that provides it with power also acts as a surge protector that protect connected devices from power problems such as brownouts, which could damage, reduce healthy lifespan and affect sensitive electronic equipment or devices.

There are a few uses for the UPS, such as:

The UPS filters incoming power and helps detect and stabilise changes in the electrical current to prevent your equipment from being harmed. Most importantly, it ensures that you will have complete surge protection against unreliable voltage that could damage your equipment through noise filtration which prevents data corruption.

 

It is important to ensure your UPS is of the correct size and design. This is an important factor in determining the size of the power and ensuring your UPS is large enough to support all the equipment plugged into it. Undersizing your UPS could create immediate problems but oversizing it would waste energy, money, and valuable space for your facility or building. While it is possible to size a UPS yourself, it makes life a lot easier by consulting with a reputable manufacturer to take a site survey—so that they can assess your requirements and ensure you get UPS that’s on point, and on budget.

#3

Automatic vOLTAGE REGULATOR (AVR)

An Automatic Voltage Regulator (AVR) is engineered to ensure that the output voltage remains consistently at a predetermined level irrespective of all voltage irregularities that may be present in the input voltage. 

 

Built with control components that sense changes in the output voltage and compensate for the difference accordingly, AVRs ensure that connected systems receive a constant and stable voltage supply at all times.

AVRs help prevent your entire system from experiencing uncertainties or voltage problems such as brownouts, voltage spikes, sags, and fluctuations. When your facilities experience substantial voltage drops, AVRs help prevent operational disruptions and promote optimal performance, thereby increasing the component’s lifespan.

 

The voltage regulation and protection that AVRs provide can help save businesses from costly repercussions, such as production losses, rejects, delayed deliveries, and other indirect issues. Thus, to protect your business operations against brownouts, it is vital to install an AVR.

In Conclusion

If there is anything we can learn from brownouts, it is that the damage caused by even a moment of power interruption can be devastating. 

 

Power supply problems aren’t going away anytime soon and have become increasingly frequent and severe. With a growing population and an increasing reliance on advanced electrical equipment, there has never been a timelier need to protect our industry against blackouts, brownouts, voltage sags, and spikes on our precious equipment. 

 

There is an increasing need to be vigilant against such power outage events and take the necessary precautions to safeguard against them. We can start by being informed about brownouts, such as what causes them and what can be done to protect ourselves from them. The next step would be to invest in voltage solutions to help mitigate the damage caused by brownouts and protect both the businesses and lives at stake.

 

Investing in the ideal voltage solutions will help you safeguard and protect your business against unexpected brownouts – allowing you to avoid losing data. This also helps you eliminate costly emergency repairs and replacements of your equipment, giving you peace of mind and providing more productive uptime for your operations.

 

Looking for more information on choosing the right solution for your application? Consult with our Voltage Specialists, and we’ll guide you through overcoming your power challenges. 

Since 1977, Ashley Edison continues to deliver total power protection with top-of-the-range customised AVR solutions that dependably optimise facilities in multiple industries—across the world.

 

Speak to our Voltage Specialist for a comprehensive consultation, or drop us an email at [email protected] to discover how you can effectively solve your power problems—permenantly.

 

To learn more about Ashley Edison’s Automatic Voltage Regulators, visit our product page here.

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Three Phase

SESL-H-3P-S Model
Large Capacity Rating
200 to 2,000 KVA

 

Enclosure 335
1000W x 1300H x 580D (mm)
250~300 KVA ± 15%
120~200 KVA ± 20%

 

Enclosure 336
1280W x 1480H x 660D (mm)
400 KVA ± 15%
250 KVA ± 20%

 

Enclosure 337H
1880W x 1950H x 880D (mm)
500 KVA ± 15%
300 KVA ± 20%

 

Enclosure 339
1470W x 1950H x 1340D (mm)
600 ~ 1,500 KVA ± 15%
400 ~ 1,000 KVA ± 20%
300 ~ 750 KVA ± 25%
300 ~ 600 KVA ± 30%

Three Phase

SES-H-3P-S Model
Added I/P Breaker Protection
60 to 1,000 KVA

 

Enclosure 333
490W x 800H x 990D (mm)
≤ 100 KVA ± 15%

 

Enclosure 334
540W x 900H x 1000D (mm)
120 – 150 KVA ± 15%

 

Enclosure 335
1000W x 1300H x 580D (mm)
180 – 300 KVA ± 15%
120 – 200 KVA ± 20%
120 – 150 KVA ± 25%

 

Enclosure 336H
1880W x 1480H x 660D (mm)
400 KVA ± 15%
250 KVA ± 20%
180 ~ 200 KVA ± 25%

 

Enclosure 337H
1880W x 1950H x 880D (mm)
500 KVA ± 15%
300 KVA ± 20%
250 KVA ± 25%

 

Enclosure 339H
2170W x 1950H x 1340D (mm)
600~1,000 KVA ± 15%
400~600 KVA ± 20%
300~400 KVA ± 25%

Single Phase

SES-H-S Model
Added I/P Breaker Protection
1 to 100 KVA

Enclosure 102
270W x 460H x 490D (mm)
≤ 20 KVA ± 30%
≤ 15 KVA ± 20%
≤ 10 KVA ± 25%
≤ 10 KVA ± 15%

Enclosure 103
400W x 580H x 500D (mm)
25 KVA ± 15%
20 KVA ± 20%
15 KVA ± 25%

Enclosure 332
380W x 670H x 780D (mm)
30 KVA ± 15%

Enclosure 333
490W x 800H x 990D (mm)
40 ~ 50 KVA ± 15%
25 ~ 30 KVA ± 20%
20 ~ 25 KVA ± 25%
15 ~ 20 KVA ± 30%

Enclosure 334
540W x 900H x 1000D (mm)
60 ~ 75 KVA ± 15%
40 ~60 KVA ± 20%
30 ~ 50 KVA ± 25%
25 ~ 40 KVA ± 30%

Stay Safe With Greater Protection

As safety is our utmost priority, Ashley Edison prepares for every scenario possible
—taking the puzzle out of your protection.

Designed And Engineered With Safety In Mind

We leave nothing to chance when it comes to larger capacity units (≥400KVA). By installing high-quality protective acrylic shields in front of live parts, we ensure the safety of your personnel at all times. For enhanced protection during installation, all distances between uninsulated metal parts, busbars, and cable sizes are compliant with IEC61439-1 and IEC 61439-2 guidelines.

Outfitted with fireproof cable trunking, this protective solution safeguards against long fire exposure even in hazardous areas and explosive atmospheres—providing maximum safety for mission critical applications.

Fuss-Free Installation. Seamless Operations.

To ensure ease of installation, Ashley Edison addresses the concerns of contractors and installers by keeping it simple.

Internal-AVR

ALL TERMINATION POINTS ARE MANUFACTURED FOR EASY ACCESS

We keep the installation process simple and streamlined by allowing sufficient working space for installers. Taking the nut and bolt intrusions into consideration, we ensure that the distance between the uninsulated metal parts, the busbars, and cable sizes are compliant with IEC61439-1 and IEC 61439-2 guidelines.

 

Even in units with larger capacities, all busbar terminals are clearly marked out, and well positioned in line for easy identification of individual input and output terminations. Installation of these terminations are similar to those practised in high voltage transformers.

Easy Maintenance

Annual Ocular Maintenance
Visual Inspection 230
#1

Conduct Visual Inspection On Voltmeter:

Ensure reading is set to your desired set output voltage value (e.g. 230V).

LED Status
#2

Ensure LED Status Indicators are at “Normal”.

Subtxt LogoAsset 62 RGB
#3

Visual Observation Of Variable Transformer Surface:

Use airbrush for dusty environments if necessary.

Subtxt LogoAsset 72 RGB
#4

Visual observation if carbon brush is not worn out.

Moving Motor
#5

Conduct visual inspection to check variable transformers are all regulating (moving).

AE-MBB-PCB-Card-dark

Accuracy. Beyond Imagination.

The digitally enhanced Ashley Edison MBB Card ensures pinpoint voltage stabilisation against the most erratic anomalies, allowing you to protect precious uptime, effortlessly. Harnessing ultra precision capabilities to produce some of the tightest output voltage tolerance available in the industry, the Ashley Edison MBB Card delivers ±0.5% voltage accuracy, enabling your load equipment to enjoy optimal voltage supplies, regardless of load change in your electrical system.

Expert Digital Control

Utilising the advantageous measurements of true RMS, the Ashley Edison MBB Card’s reads both perfect, sinusoidal waves, as well as complex, distorted non sinusoidal waves—up to 0.1V accuracy. Coupled with lightning fast response time of 1.5ms, this expert digital control feature equips your load with total voltage protection that is precise, continuous and ultra responsive.

AE Digital Control Display_230v

Universal Presettable Function

The Universal Presettable Function onboard the Ashley Edison MBB Card allows seamless control of your desired output voltage value on all 3 Phases—with just a touch of a button. This multifunctional feature enables each AVR to fully operate with just 1 card, instead of separate cards for each individual phase. Fitted LED Output Voltmeter Display and Alert Indicator better facilitates easy status monitoring while performing maintenance on your AVR.

AE MBB Card

Microcontroller Unit (MCU)

MicroController Unit (MCU) helps you to deliver high speed and reliable efficiency in the AVR’s operations with less heat generation and reduced power consumption. Used in Supercomputers, Surface Mount Technology (SMT) allows components in the Ashley Edison MBB Card to be aligned closer together, creating a more compact and lightweight end product. Additional safety wire-to-board feature establishes fail-proof connectivity between circuits—so you can work safely on your AVR.